• By Leigha Cordell, WS/FC Emergency Management
  • Posted Monday, December 2, 2019

Forsyth County Officials Encourage Residents to Prepare for Winter Weather

Governor Roy Cooper has declared Dec. 1 - 7 as Winter Weather Preparedness Week and state and local officials are encouraging North Carolinians to plan and prepare now, before potentially dangerous winter weather arrives.

“Some areas have already have seen early rounds of winter weather, but we want all residents to be sure they are prepared for winter weather in the months ahead,” said August Vernon, Director, Winston-Salem Forsyth County Office of Emergency Management. “Take time now to review emergency plans, update emergency supply kits and always stay informed about weather forecasts.”

North Carolina’s unpredictable winter weather patterns can be attributed to the state’s proximity to the Appalachian Mountains, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf Stream and Gulf of Mexico. Each year there are approximately six to 12 winter storms in the Piedmont, 12 or more winter storms in the mountains and usually less than four winter storms that impact the coastal counties.

Residents should monitor changing weather conditions by listening to local media and paying close attention to winter weather warnings. Remember: A Winter Storm Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for either heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain within the next 48 hours, while a Winter Storm Warning is issued when at least 3” of snow and/or ice accumulations of ¼” or more are likely within the next 24 hours. A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when 1 to 3” of snow or ice accumulations of less than ¼” are expected within the next 24 hours, causing travel difficulties.

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center are expecting a weak El Nino pattern to develop and influence weather conditions this winter. An El Niño pattern favors wetter than normal conditions across the southeastern United States during the winter months.

“A wetter than normal winter does not necessarily mean a snowier winter,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Meteorologist Kevin Kalbaugh. “Long-range snow forecasts are pretty much impossible, but we have an increased potential of seeing above normal precipitation between December and February.”

To help ensure you are ready for winter weather, emergency management officials urge you to:
• Always keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food in your home.
• Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.
• Dress warmly. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.
• Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never burn charcoal indoors.
• Use a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio to monitor for changing weather conditions.
• Keep alternative heating sources and fire extinguishers on hand. Be sure your family knows how to use them.
• Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.

If you must travel during bad weather, emergency officials remind motorists to leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles and, if driving on snow- or ice-covered roadways, reduce your speed. If conditions worsen, pull off the highway and remain in your vehicle. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you can take shelter.

Don't forget to include pets in your emergency plans. To keep animals safe during winter weather, emergency management officials recommend you:
• Make an emergency supplies kit for your pet and include medical records, first aid kit, enough canned/dry food and water for three to seven days and pet travel bag or carrier
• Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time
• Ensure your pet has a well-fitting collar
• Bring pets inside when temperatures drop below freezing
• Move livestock and other animals to a sheltered location with food and water

For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, check the ReadyNC app or visit www.readync.org.

More information on tornadoes and overall emergency preparedness can be found online at http://www.readyforsyth.org/ or www.readync.org. Please take a moment to ‘LIKE’ ReadyForsyth on Facebook to receive the most recently updated information. Forsyth County emergency officials encourage residents to download the free ReadyNC mobile app.

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